Celebratory reception sponsored by Blue Origin and Spirit AeroSystems, along with Airbus Americas, to include Earhart family members, aviation industry leaders; Pioneering American aviator — and advocate for women's equal rights — will become the 11th woman of 100 statues in National Statuary Hall Collection. This year marks 90 years since Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean — and 125 years since her birth in Atchison, Kan., on July 24
ATCHISON, Kan., July 11, 2022 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- The Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation is proud to announce the unveiling of the bronze statue of the aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart — the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and influential advocate for women's equal rights — in National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The Congressional Statue Dedication Ceremony is scheduled for 11 a.m. E.T. on Wednesday, July 27. Earhart will become one of only 11 women represented in the National Statuary Hall Collection. The Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation has been spearheading the statue project since 2013 for the state of Kansas; the Foundation is the sole funder. Livestream of the press event will be available here.
"The time is long overdue for Amelia Earhart to take her rightful place in American history at the U.S. Capitol," said Karen Seaberg, founder and president of the Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation in Atchison, Kan. — where Earhart's dream of flight began. "The new Amelia Earhart statue will stand as a symbol of her determination, tenacity and courage that will inspire future generations — particularly women and girls."
UNVEILING RECEPTION SPONSORED BY BLUE ORIGIN, SPIRIT AEROSYSTEMS, ALNG WITH AIRBUS AMERICAS
Following the private dedication ceremony, the Foundation will host a reception on Capitol Hill for members of the Earhart family, prominent Kansans and aviation industry leaders. The celebratory event will be sponsored by Blue Origin and Spirit AeroSystems, along with Airbus Americas, Inc.
Blue Origin is a leading developer of reusable suborbital and orbital launch vehicles, engines and space systems. The company has strong ties to Kansas' supply base and is proud to be extending that state's contributions in making aerospace history. "At Blue Origin, we often look to pioneers, like Amelia Earhart, and use their accomplishments and words to give us daily inspiration. One of my favorite quotes of hers, 'The most effective way to do it, is to do it', is prominently displayed on our campus," said Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin and chair of the company's foundation, Club for the Future. "We're thrilled to celebrate the unveiling of Earhart's statue at the U.S. Capitol as part of the work we do to inspire the next generation of aerospace pioneers."
Headquartered in Wichita, Kan., Spirit AeroSystems is one of the world's largest manufacturers of aerostructures for commercial airplanes, defense platforms, and business/regional jets. "Spirit AeroSystems is proud to recognize and carry on the legacy of women in the aviation industry," said Sam Marnick, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Spirit AeroSystems; president of the Commercial Division. "We look forward to celebrating Amelia Earhart's spirit of adventure as a pioneering aviator. Her determination to defy the odds led her from her home in Kansas to become one of the most admired women in history."
The reception also will be sponsored by Airbus Americas, Inc. Airbus is a global pioneer in the aerospace industry, operating in the commercial aircraft, helicopters, defense and space sectors. The Airbus Americas Engineering Center, located in Wichita, Kan., is the first Airbus engineering center outside of Europe.
DECADES IN THE MAKING
Amelia Earhart has been destined for the U.S. Capitol Building for more than two decades. In 1999, the Kansas State Legislature voted to replace both of its statues in the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection with President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Amelia Earhart. The bronze statue of Eisenhower was installed in the Capitol Rotunda in 2003, replacing former Kansas Gov. George Washington Glick. Earhart will replace the marble statue of former Kansas U.S. Senator John James Ingalls in National Statuary Hall, installed in 1905.
The National Statuary Hall Collection in the United States Capitol Building is comprised of 100 statues, two sent by each of the 50 states to honor persons notable in their history. It was established by Congress in 1864, well before women had won the right to vote.
Although the Foundation was formed in 2016, Seaberg and Jacque Pregont, chair of the Amelia Earhart Statuary Hall Selection Committee and Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation board member, have been leading the Earhart statue project since 2013 when the Amelia Earhart Statuary Hall Selection Committee was formed to conduct a national RFP process to select a qualified sculptor.
Selection Committee members included:
- Jacque Pregont, Committee Chair — Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation (Board Member); Amelia Earhart Festival (Coordinator)
- Karen Seaberg — Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation (Board President); Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum (Founder and President); Atchison Amelia Earhart Festival (Chair); MGP Ingredients (Chairman of the Board)
- Rick Berger — The Berger Company (CEO)
- Lynette Long — Equal Visibility Everywhere (Founder and President)
- Amy M. Kleppner — Niece of Amelia Earhart
- Martha Phillips — The Ninety-Nines, Inc: International Organization of Women Pilots (Past President)
- Virginia Treanor — National Museum of Women in the Arts (Associate Curator)
- Patricia McDonnell — Wichita Art Museum (Director)
- Saralyn Reece Hardy — Spencer Museum of Art at The University of Kansas (Director)
"Guided by Amelia's legacy of determination and perseverance, we're excited to finally bring Amelia Earhart to National Statuary Hall to honor her enduring influence as a pioneering American aviator who passionately championed equal opportunity for all, regardless of gender," said Pregont. "Her fearless spirit was revolutionary and her trailblazing life continues to be remarkably relevant today."
For decades, Seaberg and Pregont have been dedicated to preserving Amelia's legacy to inspire future generations, in Kansas, across the U.S., and around world. In May, the Foundation board members were special guests in Northern Ireland for this year's 90th anniversary commemoration of Earhart becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, landing in Derry on May 21, 1932.
"I want to thank the Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation, the Earhart family and the City of Atchison for their persistent work to bring Amelia to the Capitol," said U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (Kan.). "A bold and inspiring aviator, Amelia Earhart soared into the history books, setting flight records and breaking barriers. She led the way for thousands of women to pursue their dreams – whether that was in aviation or to break their own, new barriers."
NATIONALLY RENOWNED SCULPTORS
Reviewing over 50 proposals from across the country, the committee selected nationally renowned sculptors George and Mark Lundeen to create the life-like bronze "Amelia" in their Loveland, Colorado, studios.
"It's a tremendous honor to bring 'Amelia' to our nation's capitol," said sculptor George Lundeen. "We enjoyed conducting extensive research and we're fortunate to have access to the many photos and videos of Amelia, which we haven't typically had for historical figures, along with the invaluable insights from the Earhart family."
"On behalf of the Earhart family, we think George and Mark Lundeen captured her spirit, and we're excited for the national unveiling," said Bram Kleppner. Kleppner is the grandson of Earhart's sister, Muriel Grace Earhart Morrissey, and the son of Earhart's niece, Amy M. Kleppner, who served on the selection committee.
The sculptors recently completed a bronze statue of Dr. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, that was unveiled on June 17 at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in New York. The duo, along with sculptor Joey Bainer, also created the bronze statues at Space Center Houston depicting the safe return on April 17, 1970, of the Apollo 13 astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise. The Lundeen brothers also created a bronze tribute to the Apollo 11 mission at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida that depicts the first astronauts to land on the moon on July 20, 1969: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins.
DEDICATION TO EARHART'S LEGACY
The "Amelia" statue is one of several projects the Foundation's leaders have initiated to preserve Earhart's prolific legacy. The Foundation also is leading a capital campaign to build the new Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum at the Amelia Earhart Memorial Airport (K59) in Atchison, Kan.
Working in partnership with Kansas-based Dimensional Innovations, the state-of-the-art STEM and history museum, opening in 2023, will immerse visitors in Earhart's pioneering life, from growing up in Atchison to the height of her worldwide fame. A "twin" bronze statue of the statue to be unveiled in National Statuary Hall will greet visitors at the Museum's entrance. When completed, the Museum will apply to become an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.
Seaberg and Pregont also lead the annual Amelia Earhart Festival. Since its inception in 1997 to celebrate Earhart's 100th birthday, the Festival draws thousands of visitors to Atchison every year. This year's festival, July 15-16, will mark 125 years since Earhart was born in Atchison, Kan., on July 24, 1897.
"Though she faced many obstacles, Amelia was ambitious, worked hard and believed in her dreams," Pregont added. "Most importantly, Amelia used her achievements to advocate for equal rights and to encourage other women and girls to consider the many possibilities for their lives."
Each year, the Festival honors a woman whose life and career exemplify triumph over adversity with the Amelia Earhart Pioneering Achievement Award. Past recipients include Mae Jemison (former NASA astronaut who became the first African American woman to travel in space); Eileen Collins (NASA's first female pilot and first female commander of a space shuttle); Nancy Kassebaum Baker (first woman to represent Kansas in the U.S. Senate); Sophia Danenberg (first African American and the first black woman to climb to the summit of Mount Everest), among others. The 2022 Pioneering Achievement Award will be presented to Mandy Horvath, a bi-lateral amputee who climbed Pikes Peak and Mount Kilimanjaro.
"Though she disappeared on her flight around the world, Amelia Earhart did not leave a tragic legacy," Seaberg added. "Instead, her story is one of daring, bravery and perseverance. Her life and legacy continue to inspire people across the U.S. — and around the globe — to courageously pursue their dreams."
ABOUT THE ATCHISON AMELIA EARHART FOUNDATION
The Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation was formed in 2016 to honor the world-renowned aviation legacy of Amelia Earhart — whose dreams of flying began in her Atchison, Kan., hometown. The Foundation is dedicated to inspiring future aviation and aerospace leaders through the story of Amelia Earhart's tenacity and determination to overcome obstacles on her journey to become the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. The Foundation is spearheading a capital campaign to build the new Amelia Earhart Hangar Museum in Atchison. The Foundation is a 501(c)(3). For more, http://www.ameliaearharthangarmuseum.org
MEDIA NOTE: The Congressional Statue Dedication Ceremony on July 27 will be a mandatory TV pool. For assistance in requesting media credentials, contact the U.S. Senate Press Gallery (email: [email protected] or call: 202.224.0241) or the House Radio-TV Gallery (email: [email protected] or call: 202-225-5214).
Vanessa Bonavia, V Communications, LLC, 1 (913) 980-3167, [email protected]
SOURCE Atchison Amelia Earhart Foundation